As floods ravaged our state, the impulse to actively help, to get up and do something, has often flowed through food. People gathered supplies, hit the road and made sure that those pushed from their homes or stuck between floodwaters have something to eat.

Now that we begin to rebuild, the compulsion to help is no less vital. Food will be part of these efforts, and it’s up to more of us to see them through.

It’s about harnessing food, Louisiana’s reputation for it and the traditions we already have around it as vehicles to help others.

This second wave of support is not just a matter of getting meals into people’s hands, although that remains an urgent need. As the full reach of the disaster is measured, more people will need help with the costs of rebuilding, with threading pathways through this process and with managing that stain of stress and anguish that marks a flooded community long after the water has gone.

This is a long haul, and the support our people need calls for funding. We will need to come up with a lot of it ourselves, and that's why food lovers in Louisiana should expect to see appeals to dig deep when they dig in. 

The food-based fundraiser is a fixture in our state, and these events are already shifting into high gear around the common cause of flood relief and rebuilding. That should only accelerate and accumulate in the weeks and months ahead.

You’ll see them at restaurants, of course. Our restaurants are natural gathering places, as are our bars and coffee shops, and so they become rallying points for community efforts like these.

But that’s not where it ends. With autumn on the horizon, Louisiana will enter one of its great social eating seasons. It’s the time of tailgating and fall festivals, backyard parties and group outings. Wherever food draws people together, there is an opportunity to tap that gathering for help. It could be fundraising on behalf of charitable agencies that are household names, or it could be a grassroots campaign for one household in particular.

Whether you’re pledging a portion of proceeds or literally filling a bucket with cash at the cookout, this is flood relief through food.

It’s about using part of our Louisiana lifestyle to help others build back their own lives, and it draws on a culture that is so strong in Louisiana to help people when they need strength most.

Stay generous, stay hungry and keep your eyes open for the next opportunity to step up to the plate.

Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.